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By: L. Azar

My mother-in-law, one of the most amazing people I know, discovered a diamond in the form of a shiur given by Rabbanit Yemimah Mizrachi. She shared with me a most inspiring story in connection to the shiur, which I, in turn, must share with you, dear reader.

During this past Fast of Esther, my mother-in-law was listening to one of Rabbanit Mizrachi’s classes. The lecture was about how to perceive the “nudnikim” around us. Everyone has nudniks or difficult people in their lives who demand a lot of emotional energy from them. In truth, though, Hashem loves and is close to those often downtrodden people and He presents them to us as an opportunity to give to them and thereby earn special merit. When we rise above the difficulties that a nudnik presents, Hashem showers an abundance of reward and personal salvation upon us.

My mother-in-law was moved by Rabbanit Mizrachi’s impassioned words and was no sooner put to the test in
real life.

“My phone rang. I picked it up and, surely enough, who was it? A ‘nudnik!’ my mother-in-law told me. “It was such hashgaha peratit (Divine providence)!” She was determined to pass this test, no matter what.

The nudnik in question, a poor, lonely woman we’ll call Rivka, caught my mother-in-law at the perfect moment (as nudniks tend to do best): five minutes after Taanit Esther ended. My mother-in-law was drained and exhausted, finally sitting down to her first cup of steaming hot coffee of the day. Rivka usually liked to talk awhile, but that day she had a favor to ask. Would my mother-in-law mind running down the block to pick up Rivka’s wig? The salon was closing in another five minutes and Rivka just could not get there in time. Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t paid for, so would it be okay if she laid out the money as well?

My mother-in-law gulped, but with Rabbanit Mizrachi’s words hanging teasingly in her mind, she simply could not refuse. “Sure!” she responded, leaving no trace of an internal struggle in her reply. Forgoing her first sips of coffee (and any food, for that matter!), she ran down the street and paid for the wig (with money she wasn’t sure she’d see again).
At suppertime, Rivka drove by and my mother-in-law ran the freshly washed wig out to her car. Just passing the test was not enough; my mother-in-law
wanted to ace this one with flying
colors. She grabbed one of her mishloah manot packages and handed that to the woman too.

That poor, lonely woman’s reaction made it all worth it. Her face lit up and she broke into a smile that reached her eyes. “Nobody ever gives me mishloah manot!” Rivka said simply.

Yes, that test was not an easy one, but the dividends that came out of it, to bring light to a broken woman’s life, were well worth any hardship involved.

And that is what brings the Jewish community together as one unit. Each Jew can bring light to one another’s life, whether by sharing a smile, a hello, a phone call to a lonely fellow, or a small note of appreciation to a friend or spouse. These are the kinds of gestures that solidify relationships with the people in our lives, no matter how wretched they may be.

To what extent must we go to extend kindness to others?

I know of someone who writes letters of praise and encouragement to people he does not even know, because he’s aware that one kind word – even given anonymously – lifts spirits and increases unity. After all, who can’t use a compliment?

I also know of a lovely girl who has a classmate with Down syndrome. Every single girl in her class goes out of her way to include this classmate and make her feel like one of the bunch. Their efforts make this special girl happy to attend school each day.

It’s actions like these that bring everybody together to create a
unified nation!